Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Emory Dance Program Presents: Honors Thesis Concerts


This weekend (March 23rd-March 25th) the Emory Dance Program will present honors theses by seniors, Rosie Ditre, Cherry Fung, Clara Guyton, Julianna Joss, and Eliza Krakower! Theses projects include the explorations of dance on screen, political relationships, poetry, identity expression, and the intersections of dance genres. 


Check out one of our featured theses choreographers, Julianna Joss, as she shares insight on her concept and process!


Photography by: Erin Baker

The Moving Identity: Explorations in the Body’s Capacity for Communication, Expression, and Understanding


By: Julianna Joss




“It’s not what I am, it’s who I am.”  Back in September 2016, during the first official rehearsal of this thesis concert process, I asked my dancers to talk about their identities.  One of my dancers, Alfredo, responded with these simple, yet powerful words.

The process of creating dance about identity began as a daunting and overwhelming task.  Who am I, as a privileged, white-passing woman, to create art about one of the most complex, controversial topics of the human experience?  How could I do this topic any justice?  With so many people creating about this topic right now, how could I possibly add anything original or meaningful?
Photography by: Jake Rosmarin

But with this one sentence about the who rather than the what, I let go.  This process would be about my dancers’ stories and my story.  This discussion about identity would not about categorizing, labeling, and drawing lines in the sand.  Rather, it is deeply personal and unique to each individual, the culmination of experiences, relationships, histories, and values, and I would find my humble voice in this conversation by honoring that and simply that.  I conducted my research on movement and identity in two separate branches: a four-part group piece exploring individual identity, relationships between identities, and group identity, in addition to a solo I created based on my personal identity. 
           
Photography by: Jake Rosmarin
The process of working with my five wildly talented, bold, and intelligent dancers, Ruchi, Hannah, Sara, Ben, and Alfredo, was highly collaborative. While this may be “my” thesis, I firmly believe that the group piece, To Be Seen, belongs to all of us equitably.  My method is I would give my dancers a prompt or an idea to work with and they would create movement, by themselves, in duets, or in larger groups.  “Create four movements that suggest ‘affirmation,’ such as ‘following’ or ‘noticing’ actions.”  “Find a moment of protest within your solo movement.”  Then I would massage and finesse the material usually by asking dancers to indulge or expand upon certain ideas or clarify intentions.  Organically, our process yielded dozens of snippets of movement moments and it was my job to look at this material and find the connections, themes, and patterns.  And the mystery of the creative process somehow revealed itself.  In the final weeks of my rehearsal process, I started to understand how I could tell this story – the story of five humans in four, interconnected parts. 

Photography by: Erin Baker
The most challenging part of my thesis process was creating my solo, The Space Between.  Ironically, in dealing with the complexity of myself, the best tactic was simplicity.  I used all my choreographic tools, clearly, but directly – proximity, repetition, focus, gesture, dynamic, and use of space.  However, within this functional framework, I have found the emotion, feeling, and uniquely personal nature of self.  I discovered a woman who exposes, who reveals, who touches, but also a woman who wrestles, who fights, and who struggles. 

The words that come to mind as I close my reflection on movement and identity are witness and nuance. 
Photography by: Jake Rosmarin

Witness. We are who we are because of how we relate to one other; how we see one another and bear witness to each other’s lives.
Nuance.  We are complex, the space we individually occupy between all our identities is what makes us, uniquely us.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Emory Dance Program Presents: Honors Thesis Concerts

Next weekend (March 23rd-March 25th) the Emory Dance Program will present honors theses by seniors, Rosie Ditre, Cherry Fung, Clara Guyton, Julianna Joss, and Eliza Krakower! Theses projects include the explorations of dance on screen, political relationships, poetry, identity expression, and the intersections of dance genres.

Check out one of our featured theses choreographers, Clara Guyton, as she shares insight on her concept and process!



Whispered Conversations: The Act of Making via Translation between Poetry and Dance 


By Clara Guyton



I can never tell
if I am a dancer who loves poetry
or a poet who loves to dance.


In my Junior spring at Emory, I took a class called “Poetry via Translation”. The professer would hand us a poem in another language and ask us to translate it. During these exercises, I created poetry I didn’t even know I had inside of me, using tools that called upon all of my senses. The process of translating the poems reminded me of how I choreograph on myself in the studio — the sometimes (seemingly) imposible task of transmitting what MUST be expressed to the physical body with succint clarity while not sacrificing emotion.

I realized the concept that the poem is the vehicle through which an idea or emotion or memory or thought or exclamation (etc.) is carried IS what a dancer is to the dance. A dancer’s body is the poem while the movement vocabulary is the idea, together evoking through performance the essence of the work (or world).


And so…I began my work on this project. This project that explores and challenges the boundaries of bold translation between the mediums of dance and poetry. This project that has shaped me as much as I have shaped it. This project that I am so grateful to nourish and share.

My process in the studio has always included writing. I usually carry about 6-7 books with me (usually poetry and NOT for class) to bring to the studio. About 4 of these books are often old and current journals.

(I like to call upon memories, for I believe that we cannot understand
what we are trying to say before we understand what we have said.)

In addition to researching these old journals and reading the poetry I brought, I write every rehearsal. I always leave time before or after each rehearsal to write about whatever came to mind during time in the studio, allowing me to inscribe what intellectual process occurred in conjunction with the physical experience.

It is a very private, personal process for me. Which may be why I prefer to choreograph for myself, on myself (at this moment in time).

 
Though my process in the studio is private, I think about my work in public very often. Outside of the studio, I (surprise!) write. I write in different sites that relate to the poem I am working with or I write a letter to the person I think of when I read the poem. I also scavenge for poems that relate to the poem I am working with, inundating myself with various perspectives of the same thought.

I really just bury myself in poetry when I make dance.

And I bathe in every lavish minute of it.


Some excerpts from journal entries in the studio:

(August 2016)
the ghost of what is not

            at the end of time {forever one step ahead of you}.

(September 2016)

You had written something illegible of the grieving rake,

             the secret one,

that grapples for an edge somewhere in the soft fleshy walls of your most

raw
need.                                                                                                   

(October 2016)

i said hello instead and scattered passion like seeds on the snow.


(December 2016)

every ending is broken
every ending lingers




Thursday, October 13, 2016

Exposed Festival: Guest Artist Spotlight - Yossi Berg and Oded Graf




The Israeli Dance & Theater Festival at Emory Starts TODAY!


EXPOSED is a six-week festival of contemporary dance and physical theatre featuring Israeli and local artists, made possible through an unprecedented partnership between CORE, the award-winning contemporary dance organization based in Decatur, Ga. and Houston, Texas, 7 Stages Theatre, Emory University Dance Program/Candler Concert Series, Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University. Richly-layered, boundary-blurring performances, workshops and classes will be offered throughout metro Atlanta from October through mid-November. A complete schedule can be found at www.exposedfestivalatl.com. 



As a part of EXPOSED and the Candler Concert Series, the Emory Dance Program proudly presents Yossi Berg and Oded Graf Dance Theatre. Read below for excerpts of an interview with Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, as they discuss their backgrounds in dance, choreographic process, and their newest discoveries here at Emory!


*Responses have been edited for clarity.


On visiting Atlanta...


"We are here at the university which is more like green around and more of the city. I find it very interesting, this mixture of urban life. And at the same time there’s a zone of more tranquility. I like being in the environment of creation and creating with people. It creates a nice energy of curiosity about stuff and exploring the language."--Yossi Berg

"You know like in the beginning you don’t know nothing when you’re hearing about Atlanta, and here we are and there’s a lot of activity. And it seems to be quite current, people are updated and know what’s going on. It’s fantastic."--Oded Graf

On dance training...


"I started dancing when I was thirteen in the arts school. This is where I started learning ballet, creating, modern, all that stuff. I was dancing for three years, and while I was in high school I went to private studios to enrich my education in ballet and all the rest of techniques. I did some summer courses intensively and at the age of fifteen, I was accepted to the Batsheva Dance Company and I moved to Tel Aviv. I was dancing with Batsheva for six years and started to create while I was in the company. After I left, I did a project with a company named Deviate Physical Theater in London and Australia where we toured around the world a bit. And besides doing other projects as a freelance dancer I started choreographing myself and becoming a freelance choreographer. I was choreographing, doing my own work, teaching, creating for students, and working as a guest choreographer for companies in Europe until I met this guy in 2005. We started collaborating and doing our own work and then actually everything focused around our company."--Yossi Berg

"I have a little bit different story. I started to dance late, only after I finished my military story of three years. It almost happened by coincidence, if you could call it coincidence. I arrived to it a little bit late just from curiosity.  I had a hidden passion to dance, but I thought I was too mature to just begin at the age of twenty-one, twenty-two. But I joined a school in North of Israel owned by Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. It’s a very special place it’s in a small village like full of green. I was caught by the magic of dance totally. And quite fast, everything happened and I was learning intensively and my body was adjusting super-fast. It kind of came together rapidly and a year and a half after I was just starting the school, I was already accepted to the company. Later on I started to freelance in Israel and do some projects, in 2004 I moved to Copenhagen (in Denmark) for some projects and when I came back I started to work with Yossi. We slowly started our company and this is our 11th year working together constantly."--Oded Graf 

On creating work...



"Things that inspire us as we want to reflect: an emotion, music that we hear, a movie that we see, just life things that we want to comment on, relationships with people, etc. So I think it all motivates us to create, reflect, say something, and express ourselves about the world we are living and our point of view. I feel like in each piece its very very different sometimes it’s a very theatrical approach like we really want to tell a story so there’s more narrative; there is character, a bit more of a thread or line that we are following. Sometimes it’s more fragmented, like we want to express a certain color, certain musicality or physical dynamic. It’s very dependent on who we work with and how long the piece is. If it’s a very short piece, sometimes we prefer to work on something more physical based. It all changes."--Oded Graf

On residence at Emory University...


"One aspect of our research with our own group is physicality and exploring physical movement and partnering. We thought this could be a small signature of ours. So it would be nice to explore with students we don’t know in a very short amount of time. It could be interesting because we can create a language with them and then let them use this language to create more. We came with an idea and we came with material that we were teaching, but now we’re building with the material and playing with that. There are so many different things that we’re putting together. We do want, in a very short time, for the students to get a taste of how we work and how we explore movement. And maybe this is something that can inspire them and let them experience our angle. Maybe it can help enrich their universe of dance."--Yossi Berg 

"The biggest difference, here at Emory, is the dancers we work with are also students for other faculties which makes a huge difference in the mind. Usually I work with students that are only dance majors, so all their focus, all their intention, all their schedules only surrounding dance. I was talking with the students; one who’s learning science, another one religion, math, etc, etc. I feel here that it’s interesting and also fascinating. "
--Oded Graf 


Don't miss Yossi Berg and Oded Graf Dance Theatre's Come Jump With Me showing at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, October 13-15 at 7:30pm.

"For us, it’s a unique one I feel like we went into a different path in our creation, so we’re very excited to perform it here."--Oded Graf 

Come Jump With Me is a daring, provocative, and witty work that examines the relevancy and significance of creating art in the urgent political reality of Israel. The piece serves as a dialogue between the choreographers and Israel, the country where they live, and the identity crisis in which they find themselves. In the explosive political and social reality of Israel, this work indeed pushes the limits and “plays with fire,” both literally and visually. Set in an imaginative playground involving different levels of consciousness, the performers move among personal and collective figures of history in a fantastic adventure, while trying to understand what future they are marching toward and their own definitions of “holiness.” The audience is invited to join them on an emotional roller coaster – from moments that are ecstatic and poetic, to moments examining the relevancy and significance of creating art in the urgent political reality of Israel.